‘Game of Thrones‘ showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss revealed on Wednesday that their next series, ‘Confederate‘, would be about the events leading up to “the Third American Civil War“.
It would be set in an “alternative history” where the South had successfully seceded from the Union in the Civil War in 1865, and slavery was allowed to continue.
They’ve probably deservedly copped a lot of flack about it over the last couple of days.
— roxane gay (@rgay) July 19, 2017
— Zora Neale Hustlin’ (@MarsinCharge) July 19, 2017
Handmaid’s Tale was written by a woman. Confederate is written by white men who panned the camera so they could rape Sansa. https://t.co/QkxvAOfrJA
— Jordan Calhoun (@JordanMCalhoun) July 19, 2017
In an exclusive interview with ‘Vulture‘, ‘Game of Thrones‘ showrunners Benioff and Weiss, as well as ‘Confederate‘ writers/exec producers Nichelle and Malcolm Spellman responded to the backlash.
Benioff said, “We all knew [the reaction] was coming in one form or another,” Malcolm Spellman having referred to it as “weapons-grade material“.
But still Weiss thought the series could be a valuable way to talk about America’s shameful history:
“It goes without saying slavery is the worst thing that ever happened in American history. It’s our original sin as a nation. And history doesn’t disappear. That sin is still with us in many ways. ‘Confederate‘, in all of our minds, will be an alternative history show. It’s a science-fiction show. One of the strengths of science fiction is that it can show us how this history is still with us in a way no strictly realistic drama ever could, whether it were a historical drama or a contemporary drama. It’s an ugly and a painful history, but we all think this is a reason to talk about it, not a reason to run from it. And this feels like a potentially valuable way to talk about it.”
Nichelle Spellman said that they understood people’s concerns about the project, but that she’d prefer they reserve their judgement:
“I do understand their concern. I wish their concern had been reserved to the night of the premiere, on HBO, on a Sunday night, when they watched and then they made a decision after they watched an hour of television as to whether or not we succeeded in what we set out to do. The concern is real. But I think that the four of us are very thoughtful, very serious, and not flip about what we are getting into in any way.”
Malcolm Spellman went further on the topic of parallels to today, articulating just why they didn’t think the program would end up as “wish fulfilment for white supremacists“, a criticism that’s been levelled at the creators:
“This shit is alive and real today. I think people have got to stop pretending that slavery was something that happened and went away. The shit is affecting people in the present day. And it’s easy for folks to hide from it, because sometimes you’re not able to map it out, especially with how insidious racism has become.
“But everyone knows that with Trump coming into power, a bunch of shit that had always been there got resurfaced. So the idea that this would be pornography goes back to people imagining whips and plantations. What they need to be imagining is how fucked up things are today, and a story that allows us to now dramatise it in a more tangible matter.”
Benioff’s final word was that he was “scared and excited” about ‘Confederate‘: “We’re all gonna put a lot of pressure on ourselves to get it right.”
Photo: Amy E Price / Getty.